Moron of the Morning: Deer Poacher Forced To Watch “Bambi” Repeatedly
Four members of a southwest Missouri family have been caught in a multi-year poaching case where authorities say hundreds of deer were killed illegally.
“The deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste,” said Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Don Trotter. Conservation agents are calling it one of Missouri’s largest cases of deer poaching. The case was so egregious that Lawrence County Judge Robert George ordered a special addition to the jail time one of the poachers received.
Court records show the defendant “is to view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before December 23, 2018, and at least one such viewing each month thereafter, during Defendants incarceration in the Lawrence County Jail.” The southwest Missouri case involves David Berry Sr. of Springfield, David Berry Jr. of Brookline, and Kyle Berry of Everton. The trio were involved in a multi-year investigation by state, federal and Canadian law enforcement agencies and conservation officers involving suspects in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Canada.
David Berry Jr. is the defendant who was ordered to watch Bambi. According to a Missouri Department of Conservation news release, information gained from these and earlier interviews tied 14 Missouri residents to over 230 charges that occurred in 11 Missouri counties. Three suspects were tied to additional wildlife violations in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. Two suspects were tied to federal Lacey Act wildlife violations that occurred in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada.
As part of this effort, MDC agents concluded an 8½ month investigation by serving arrest warrants on David Berry Jr., David Berry Sr., and Kyle Berry on Aug. 31, 2016. On Thursday, Dec. 13, David Berry Jr. received a 120-day sentence in Barton County Circuit Court for a felony firearms probation violation. On Dec. 6, he received a one-year jail sentence in Lawrence County Associate Court after pleading guilty to taking wildlife illegally on Oct. 11.
The 120-day sentence Berry Jr. received in Barton County Circuit Court will be served in addition to the one-year sentence he received in Lawrence County. These convictions were made with information obtained from Operation Game Thief, a hotline sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. “It is unknown how many deer the main group of suspects has taken illegally over the past several years,” Lawrence County Conservation Agent Andy Barnes said. “It would be safe to say that several hundred deer were taken illegally.”
Prior to the July 2016 interviews, David Berry Sr. and Eric Berry, 20, Everton, were convicted of taking gamefish by hand in Dade County. During the 2017 firearms deer season, while awaiting his court appearance for violations from the 2016 investigation, Eric Berry and an accomplice were caught spotlighting in Lawrence County. To date, this group of poachers has paid $151,000 in bonds and $51,000 in fines and court costs and collectively served 33 days in jail.
David Berry Sr. and David Berry Jr. had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked for life by the Missouri Conservation Commission. Eric Berry and Kyle Berry had hunting and fishing privileges revoked for 18 years and 8 years, respectively. Jerimiah Cline, of Republic, who took wildlife illegally and assisted the Berrys, had hunting privileges revoked for five years.
Information received this fall through Operation Game Thief led to the arrests of David Berry Sr. and David Berry Jr. for violating terms of their probation. David Berry Sr. has posted bond and is awaiting a probation revocation hearing. Why take just the deer heads and leave the rest to rot? “In situations like this, with serial poachers who have no regard for the animals, rules of fair chase, or aren’t bothered by the fact that they’re stealing from others, it’s all about greed and ego,” said Randy Doman, MDC Protection Division Chief.
“Taking just the heads is their version of obtaining a ‘trophy’ and leaving the carcass behind is merely an afterthought. While there are some cases where poachers go after the antlers for profit, with this bunch it was more about the thrill of the kill itself.”